San Francisco is full of restaurants serving up dishes best enjoyed during early hours on weekends, along with a boozy beverage or two. Here are seven brunch spots perfect for enjoying delicious food, catching up with friends, and even curing that (occasional) hangover.
Brenda’s French Soul Food is the place to go when you’ve got a hankering for soulful dishes in a casual, friendly environment. It’s hard to make a decision about what to order – everything on the Southern and Creole-inspired menu is good – but you’re not going to find a fried chicken eggs benedict like this one (served on cream biscuits with creole hollandaise) anywhere else. Brenda’s also does a great take on the Northern California hangtown fry, and you absolutely cannot leave without getting an order of beignets. Best of all, while brunch is served from 8am to 3pm on Saturday, on Sundays you can get it all day until 8pm.
If you wake up with an alcohol-induced headache on a Saturday or Sunday, head to Comstock Saloon for a brunch that will cure what ails you. Everything on the menu is indulgent and over-the-top in the best way possible, including a $20 mozzarella stick with caviar and gold leaf; a breakfast poutine with whole hog sausage, scrambled eggs and Szechuan gravy; and a char sui pork eggs benedict, which is a poached egg atop a huge focaccia bun filled with sweet and savory barbecue pork. Comstock also puts out some quality brunch cocktails. Just be careful or you’ll end up right back where you started.
In a town where brunch lines can be an hour or more, it’s refreshing that Nopa accepts reservations (which you’ll need if you want to get in). The high-ceilinged dining room is warm and inviting during the day, and looks even better after one of the restaurant’s fantastic brunch cocktails. Brunch is not the time to get the famous burger – save that for dinner or late night. Instead, focus on the egg in a hole or oven-baked egg. And, of course, an order of the custard French toast to share with the table.
The wait to get into Plow’s brunch can be around two hours, but it’s well worth it. Plow only serves breakfast and lunch (AKA ‘brunch’), which is almost disappointing considering how well they do those two meals, but means they can put all their focus on doing them exceptionally well. Though there are some healthy items on the menu that are quite tasty, you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t order one of the pancakes (we love the lemon ricotta version) or the biscuits and housemade pork sausage gravy. No matter what, be sure to order the plow potatoes, which are mashed, then fried until perfectly crispy, and are without a doubt the best breakfast potatoes you’ll find anywhere in San Francisco.
Dim sum is the perfect brunch option when you’re looking for something that’s not your traditional bacon and eggs situation, but still feels comforting and satisfying. And though Yank Sing is definitely more expensive than other SF dim sum spots, we like it for its elegant and festive mood. Going there feels special and like a real dining occasion. The dim sum is served from carts, which can be a little intimidating if you’re not sure what everything is, but the servers are happy to point everything out on the menu (though they can also be a little pushy, so you have to stand firm if you don’t want something). Be sure to keep an eye out for the xiao long bao (soup dumplings) and the har gao (shrimp dumplings), and to pace yourself. Most dishes will come around a second time, so don’t feel pressure to order it all at once.
If you could only eat one brunch in San Francisco for the rest of your life, it’s hard to imagine picking anywhere other than Zazie in Cole Valley. The French bistro is a brunch institution in the city for good reason. The most obvious is the large selection of excellent early day dishes, like the Pierre Noir eggs benedict (bacon, tomatoes provençales and a lemon hollandaise), gingerbread pancakes with meyer lemon curd and bosc pears, a croque madame that always seems too big to finish but never is, and make-your-own-mimosas with a selection of fresh fruit juices. But what also brings people back again and again (despite the wait, which there almost always is unless you get there right when it opens) is the delightful atmosphere and the friendly staff. Zazie is tip-free, which can come with a bit of sticker shock at first, but once you do the math, and read about why being so is great for employees, it quickly makes sense.
Even though brunch is technically usually a mix of dishes offered at both breakfast and lunch, most people tend to go for the eggs and pancakes of it all. When you’re in the mood for proper afternoon food on the weekend, however, there’s no better choice than Zuni. At this classic San Francisco restaurant, skip all the dishes you could also order during dinner (yes, even the famous roast chicken for two), and opt instead for pizza from the wood-fired brick oven or the house-ground grass-fed hamburger on grilled focaccia. They’re both absolute crowd-pleasers that you can only get during the day. The upstairs balcony is the place to sit at dinner, but during the day, the downstairs dining room gets soaked in natural light and is the perfect spot for people-watching.